Quantum Leap Farm

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Who it helps: Special-needs adults (18 and over)

Where to give: www.quantumleapfarm.org or by mail at 10504 Woodstock Road, Odessa, FL, 33556. Telephone: 813-920-9250.

For Edie Dopking, perhaps the most inspiring moment comes when she sees all the walkers, crutches and wheelchairs abandoned (at least temporarily) on the mounting ramp at Quantum Leap Farm when her special-needs adult clients go horseback riding.

"A lot of times I will hear them say, 'If anyone were to look at me here up on this horse, they'd never know I was disabled,'" said Dopking, who opened the nonprofit equestrian program in 2000.

While there are several special-needs equestrian programs in Tampa Bay that cater primarily to children, Dopking said she formed her nonprofit to help mentally and physically disabled adults.

Horseback riding has three distinct benefits. It builds self-confidence and moves adults away from "I can't"; builds lower-body strength and improves balance, gait stability and mobility; and provides an outlet for friendships outside of their immediate families. Quantum Leap recent began working with military veterans injured in Iraq and other conflicts, whose diagnoses include amputation, disfigurement, brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dopking said donations are down since the big natural disasters struck, as most people view her program as "non-essential" in light of the overwhelming hurricane recovery needs. Her program accepts contributions and has four levels of sponsorship available.

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